Most horse owners know a hydrated horse is a healthy horse, and a dehydrated horse is a serious matter.
We provide salt blocks for horses to replace essential trace minerals they need, and because salt triggers their thirst for water. But what if horses ignore their block? How do you get horses to drink more water?
Understanding these four common myths about salt blocks will help your horse use a lick more frequently and avoid becoming dehydrated.
Most horses have a pallet more finicky than a picky 5-year-old human. If your horse doesn’t like the salt or mineral block you put out, if it doesn’t taste good, she won’t lick it.
Most salt blocks are industrialized, manmade licks, and many horses simply don’t like the taste. That means they won’t lick them—even if they need the salt, electrolytes, minerals, or if they’re dehydrated.
Tip: Choose a natural mineral rock. The best mineral block for horses actually isn’t a block at all. Instead of a common block, choose a natural mineral rock such as a Himalayan salt rock from Pakistan or, even better, a Redmond Rock mined in the USA.
Changing to a natural mineral rock will appeal to your horse’s pallet, increase the likelihood she’ll lick it regularly, and deliver the essential minerals she needs. And it will provide a true trigger for hydration.
Most manmade mineral blocks for horses are far less nutritious than natural salt rocks, and aren’t providing all the trace minerals your horse needs. Manmade pressed blocks generally have about six to eight minerals included. (Check the ingredients on the label of your block.) Your horse can do better.
Tip: Natural mineral licks contain more trace minerals. A natural salt rock like Redmond Rock is packed with essential trace minerals—63 to be exact. See the table below for a complete analysis. Redmond minerals are mined straight from an ancient seabed, have no additives or fillers, and naturally come in the quantity and balance your horse needs.
In many cases, this is true. A natural salt lick will provide most horses all the supplemental minerals necessary, especially if they’re getting a quality hay/alfalfa mix and plenty of fresh water.
But some of us have very hard-working horses. They’re training and competing in vigorous events like cross-country, roping and reining, barrel racing, and endurance. These high-exertion disciplines demand a lot from horses and drain them of vital electrolytes—especially if they’re working in the sun and sweating.
In these conditions, your horse may not be getting all the electrolytes and salt he needs from only licking a salt rock. Why? Horses’ tongues are sensitive. After a certain amount of licking, horses’ tongues get sore and they’ll stop—even if they need additional minerals or they’re dehydrated.
Tip: Try loose minerals for horses. You want to ensure your hard-working horse is getting all the salt, minerals, and water he needs. You can do that by adding loose minerals, such as Redmond Rock Crushed, into his daily feed. A loose mineral mix replaces critical electrolytes used during exertion or excessive sweating, and provides a proper trigger to drink.
Humans drink when they’re thirsty, so why don’t horses? Horses need a trigger to drink, and without salt, which provides that trigger, many won’t consume enough water. This can lead to dehydration, which may cause other serious problems like compaction and colic.
Tip: Horses need salt to trigger their thirst response. Always give your horse access to a natural salt lick or loose mineral salt and fresh water. Horses love the taste of natural licks and crushed minerals, and the salt will encourage them to drink regularly and stay hydrated and healthy.
Still wondering whether your horse is drinking enough water? Read this post about 5 Ways to Tell If Your Horse Is Dehydrated.
They say you can lead a horse to water but you...
By Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.